When it was reported a few weeks ago that Pollock is dead set on returning this year and intends to resume baseball activities July 1, it flew rather under the radar, but indeed, the star outfielder is making steady progress and we’re now just over a week away from that date. At this point, it seems reasonable to expect that Pollock might well return within about two weeks after the All-Star break, with my most pessimistic estimation being Aug. 1. That means it’s time to beat the rush and quietly scoop Pollock up in any leagues where he’s been cut to the wire. Personally, I’m a Pollock owner who was hit hard by his freak (post-fantasy-drafts, naturally) injury in March, and it’s thrilling to hear positive signs about his progress.
I don’t think you need to be told what Pollock brings to the table, but in case you’ve got a goldfish memory (not a true thing, by the way — we need to figure out a new metaphor here), the guy hit .315 with 20 homers and 39 steals last year. Picking a player like him up off the wire — and he is on many, many waiver wires — in midseason is like winning the lottery. You’d like to win the lottery, wouldn’t you? Well, now you can.
Other Recent Recommendations: Devon Travis, Matt Moore, Justin Turner, Willson Contreras
A shortstop by trade, the second overall pick in last season’s MLB draft is already knocking on the door of the big leagues thanks to a .311/.410/.582 line with 13 homers and a sick-nasty 29:20 BB:K over 51 games in Double-A this season. To reach the big leagues, Bregman will have to show that he’s capable of playing third base — where he’s recently seen seven games of action — because the Astros already have that Carlos Correa guy at shortstop, but Bregman should have little difficulty taking to the hot corner and unseating the likes of Luis Valbuena and Marwin Gonzalez in short order. The 22-year-old LSU product also brings decent speed to the table, rounding out what should be a terrifically helpful fantasy line for years to come. Hitters with Bregman’s elite combination of power and contact are not easy to come by, so he’s worth picking up in deeper formats on spec. Of course, he should be universally owned in keeper leagues already.
Other Recent Recommendations: Zach Davies, Chris Young, Matt Shoemaker, Jayson Werth
Those of you who play in keeper leagues ought to be quite familiar with Thompson’s name — a 2009 second-round pick by the White Sox, he remained among that organization’s top prospects for years due to his enticing power-speed combo; unfortunately, a tendency to strike out way too much and a .241 career average in the minors sapped some of the fantasy community’s enthusiasm. However, the strides Thompson made last year — dramatically trimming his strikeout rate and then hitting .295 in 44 games on the South Side of Chicago — have persisted into this year.
Besides his 10 homers, four steals (three of which came in one game last weekend, offering the promise of more to come) and .271 average, the 25-year-old sports an 11.6 percent walk rate that’s higher than any he’s posted in a minor league season, his contact rate is up, he’s swinging at fewer pitches out of the zone, and he’s cut his pop-up rate by three-quarters from last year. That’s a lot of great signs in one package. The result has been a near-everyday spot in the Dodgers’ lineup — one that he doesn’t seem likely to relinquish. Now, to be fair, there are some warning signs to be found here — Thompson is hitting the ball on the ground a whole lot, and his sky-high 34.5 percent HR/FB rate is nearly impossible to sustain over the course of a full season. He’s also a pull-heavy hitter from the right side, which means teams will shift against him more and more in this modern era of defensive positioning.
So no, he’s probably not a .300 hitter, and no, he’s probably not going to reach 30 homers this year, but a slight improvement from his current batting average with 20-plus homers and 15 or so steals would be well within the range of Thompson’s abilities. That basically makes him a junior version of last year’s edition of Mookie Betts, which means fantasy owners should be jumping on board with alacrity.
Remember when we were all in love with Matt Adams, back before he turned into a competent-but-unexciting platoon player instead of a power-hitting stud at first base? Well, allow me to present Matt Adams 2.0 — a new version with several bug fixes. He’s still currently occupying a platoon role, but there’s a very interesting “but” here: Adams has experienced success in his small sample of 19 at-bats against lefties, socking two doubles and a homer among six hits — a .316 average that’s a near mirror to his .315 against righties. Yes, he’s feasted on right-handed pitchers even more than usual this year. The 27-year-old’s started utilizing his power better by hitting the ball in the air rather than on the ground, and he’s hitting it harder than ever before in his career — a 41.5 percent hard-hit rate that would tie Josh Donaldson for 10th in all of baseball if Adams had enough at-bats to qualify. If he starts getting more chances against lefties — and with Brandon Moss hitting .214, hey, he might — it’s exciting to think what Adams could do with full-time at-bats.
Other Recent Recommendations: Nate Eovaldi, Michael Fulmer, Logan Morrison, Pete O’Brien
Here we are on the eighth Friday of the RotoWire/FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship, and… well, I didn’t do as well last week as I did the week before. Hey, that’s fine; sometimes you have that good-but-not-great week where some of your guys do well, but you don’t get those lineup-wide contributions that really make the bacon. Hard to complain about the recommendations, though, right?
For you, dear RotoWire users, we’ve teamed up with Fanduel to run a $10, multi-entry contest exclusively for you every Friday from April 8 to July 15 — and all you have to do to money is finish in the top half of the standings, with a top-10 finish in any week earning you a ticket to the championship round, which takes place July 22. Click here to get in on the action!
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One of the most amazing things about this year’s version of Leonys Martin is how far under the radar he’s flown for how well he’s played. Remember, the Cuban outfielder was once a top-80 prospect who hit .359/.42/.610 over 55 gmes in Triple-A at age 24; there was a lot to love here. Martin never developed into anything more than a one-dimensional speedster in the Rangers organization, but his time in Texas isn’t the end of his story. Indeed, he’s found new life in Seattle, of all places, perhaps taking his cues from the powerful Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano to become a much more authoritative hitter. After homering yet again Tuesday, Martin already owns a new career high in that category (nine), and he’s currently on an eight-game hitting streak in which he’s hitting a cool .500 (14-for-28) with four homers. The speed’s still there, too — he’s swiped seven bags.
Of course, savvy fantasy owners look at that 21.4 percent HR/FB rate and rightly ask, “Hey, is that sustainable?” Well, perhaps not entirely, but Martin has elevated his fly-ball rate and his hard-hit rate dramatically this year — as in, more than 10 percent each compared to his career norms — and the best plate discipline of his career is just icing on the cake. Buy the breakout.
Other Recent Recommendations: None yet, but look out for a new recommended pickup every day moving forward!
It’s nice to write one of these blogs after I have a good week in the RotoWire/FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship, and I did just that last week, taking third place due to big performances from the likes of Bryce Harper, Joe Panik, Travis Shaw and Aledmys Diaz. Thanks to a couple disastrous weeks early on, I’m still buried in the overall rankings, but hey, it’s still just mid-late May, right?
As you’ve probably noticed already, every Friday from April 8 to July 15, FanDuel will run a $10, multi-entry contest exclusively for RotoWire users — and all you have to do to money is finish in the top half, with a top-10 finish in any week earning you a ticket to the championship round, which takes place July 22. Click here to get in on the action!
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